Europe: Europa League
2 - 2
(1 - 1)
D. Kamada (13), G. Paciência (90)
R. Nainggolan (33), M. Samatta (88)
By Ultan Corcoran@UltanCorcoran

Frankfurt salvage last gasp draw to stay top of Group D

Kostic delivers yet another stunning cross as Die Adler rescue 1 point from close fought encounter with Royal Antwerp
Oliver Glasner’s Frankfurt side hosted Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp at an atmospheric Deutsche Bank Park tonight. After an impressive Matchday 12 win away to Bundesliga highfliers Freiburg, Die Adler unsurprisingly made zero changes to their successful 3-4-2-1 formation in a bid to secure 1st place in Group D with a game to spare.

The opening minutes of the tie saw end-to-end action from both sides despite any real scoring opportunities being created. Suddenly, the home side made it 1-0 in the 12th minute. A pinpoint cross from wing-back Chandler picked out Daichi Kamada who squeezed the ball past Antwerp’s Butez. That goal made it the 3rd goal in 5 group stage games for the Japanese star so far, who is seemingly having no problem finding form in Europe.

Antwerp found themselves level soon before half time. A corner found midfield dynamo Radja Nainggolan on the edge of the square who fired a volley into a crowded penalty box. The Belgian’s strike took a heavy ricochet off both Borre and N'Dicka, deceiving Kevin Trapp in goal.

Similarly, to the first 45 minutes, the second half’s opening started at a frantic pace with one team attempting to outmuscle the other. Lindstrom and Chandler continued to combine well together on Frankfurt’s right flank. The American stalwart cut inside releasing a low driven shot on 60 minutes which tested Butez in the opponent’s goal.

Glasner looked to his bench with 20 minutes left to play as he introduced Lammers for Borre in what was a like-for-like replacement. Eintracht’s Dutch striker was immediately involved in the action. Antwerp captain De Laet appeared to put the visitors in the lead when he lost his marker Lammers and latched onto a deep free kick. However, VAR intervened and disallowed the goal for what appeared to be the narrowest of offside calls.

Frustration could be felt on the pitch and in the stadium for SGE as the game neared its conclusion. Just two solitary minutes before the end of normal time and the Belgian side grabbed what looked like the winner via a swift counterattack finished by striker Samatta making it 1-2. Anger in the dugout was both inevitable and visible. Recently substituted Jakic displayed his dissatisfaction by lashing out on a water flask.

With Frankfurt staring down the barrel of defeat, who else other than Filip Kostic delivered one of his trademark crosses to find the head of substitute Goncalo Paciencia. The Portuguese rose high to loop the ball over the sprawling Butez in the 94th minute to salvage a draw.

The result means Frankfurt remains not only undefeated so far, but also hold a 2-point lead over 2nd placed Olympiacos heading into Europa League's Matchday 6.

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